Saturday, February 13, 2010
Book Review: Books by Larry McMurtry
If I ever had any desire to buy and sell used and antiquarian books, Larry McMurtry has killed it. Much of his memoir Books is about this exact subject and it does not make for very interesting reading. And, it doesn't seem like fun. I love to read books, get lost in them, pass them on to someone who will love them. I don't get excited about the idea of buying books wholesale buy the floor. Too much.
McMurtry's best writing in this memoir comes with his recollections of what started him reading in the first place. He was raised on a ranch in Texas without a single novel or children's book to be found. His mother owned a Bible, but that was not what propelled McMurtry to his love of literature. A cousin once dropped off a box of nineteen books at McMurtry's home for him to read. McMurtry was about eight or nine years old and couldn't resist the tales of adventure and sleuthing. Scenes of McMurtry as a young child start the memoir, but disappear quickly. After this, the memoir takes a turn for the extremely uninteresting, unless you're fascinated by stories of warehouses and barns full of books which McMurtry and his book-buying friends seek out and buy.
As I read the first part of this memoir, I did find myself thinking about my own childhood and my love of reading. It is important, as educators, to reflect on the reasons and the types of readings that made us so interested in pursuing literacy. I know that I loved books as a child. I definitely used them as a way to escape, but I also genuinely loved words and language. If we are able to identify and remember what first lead us to language and literature, our chances of igniting that same love in the children we teach is that much greater.
I would've loved this book if it had stayed closer to McMurtry's reading and writing and less of the buying and seeking of rare books. This book would be a great match for a rare book collector, which I am not. I am glad that I read this book as it counts toward my participation in the Bibliophilic Book Challenge, which is an awesome and unique reading adventure!